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Kareem Fahim (The New York Times) — A militant group affiliated with the Islamic State said it destroyed an Egyptian naval vessel on Thursday, posting photographs on social media of a missile exploding in a ball of fire as it slammed into the vessel.
An Egyptian military spokesman said that the crew of the unnamed ship “exchanged fire” with militants off the coast of the northern Sinai Peninsula, causing a fire on board that did not result in any fatalities. But the militant group, which calls itself Sinai Province, claimed that the missile was guided and had killed everyone on board.
It was at least the fourth unusually bold militant assault since late June, when Egypt’s top prosecutor was killed by a car bomb that detonated near his convoy. Each new attack has chipped away at claims by the government to have gained the upper hand over an insurgency that began after the military deposed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.
Marcus Weisgerber (Defense One) — The midyear budget request to Congress includes more money for submarine detection devices, more powerful guns on the Army’s Stryker vehicles, and improvements to nuclear command centers.
The Pentagon, through a number of largely classified actions, is quickly working to beef up military equipment to counter the Russian military, U.S. Defense Department documents show.
Sent to Congress this month, the two documents asks permission to shift more than $4.8 billion in the current fiscal year’s budget. While most of the shifts requested are linked to the airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, others illustrate a quiet change in Defense Department priorities following Moscow’s invasion of eastern Ukraine.
Brianna Lee (International Business Times) — A bomb detonated near a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border, killing around 20 people people Sunday, news agencies reported. Afghan police told reporters a suicide car bomb went off in Khost province, near the Camp Chapman base, which houses Afghan and U.S. military forces.
Faizullah Ghairat, police chief of Khost city, told Agence France-Presse the bomb went off near the base’s entrance. The blast occurred around 7 p.m., local time, as residents were breaking their fast for Ramadan, Al Jazeera reported.
There were conflicting accounts of the number of casualties: Ghairat estimated the death toll at 25, while a Khost doctor told AFP there were 18 deaths counted.
Sarah El Deeb & Brian Rohan (The Independent) — A car bomb outside the Italian consulate in Cairo has killed one Egyptian, the latest casualty in an ongoing Islamic militant campaign targeting the country’s security forces.
Several floors of the historic building were destroyed in the explosion, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility. Egypt is facing threats from insurgent factions including an Islamic State affiliate in its restive Sinai Peninsula, where the military has reported that at least 17 soldiers were killed in a recent assault.
The explosion at the Italian consulate came early in a side street in downtown Cairo near the building’s back entrance and a busy highway overpass. The Italian authorities said the consulate was closed at the time and none of its staff members were wounded.
Tonda MacCharles (Toronto Star) — Canadian fighter jets have stepped up airstrikes in northern and central Iraq as Iraqi government forces struggle to contain advances by Islamic State militants, bombing 18 targets in the past four weeks.
“The overall result is that the Iraqis are slowly taking back control of their territory,” said navy Capt. Paul Forget at a briefing Thursday on Canada’s mission known as Operation IMPACT.
Canada’s intensified air campaign has not conducted any airstrikes recently against ISIL targets in Syria. In fact, three months after a controversial motion passed Parliament to expand the air war into Syria, the U.S.-led coalition has assigned CF-18s to attacks on Syrian territory only three times.